WHEN CORONAVIRUS REACHES THE WORKPLACE
What Should You Do if an Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19?
Send the employee home immediately, or tell the employee to remain at home, and notify your local health department. Identify all individuals the employee worked with in close proximity (3 to 6 feet) in the previous 14 days and immediately send these employees home as well. When communicating to employees, you cannot share the name of the infected individual or you will violate confidentiality laws. You will also need to identify and contact any clients, customers or vendors the infected employee came into contact with. As a precaution, you may also want to pursue a deep cleaning of your worksite. If you share a building or worksite, you should inform property management.
What Should You Do if an Employee Was Exposed to COVID-19?
The exposed employee should be sent home, or remain at home, and you should identify all individuals the employee came into close contact with, including clients, customers and vendors. You may want to treat the suspected case as if it is a confirmed case and send these employees home as well. However, please contact your local health department immediately for guidance and action to take that is specific to your situation. If the employee has interacted with clients, customer, vendors or visitors, you should let these people know that there is a potential case. Remember that personally identifiable medical information about an employee cannot be shared.
What Steps Can You Take Now to Minimize Risk of Transmission? (from OSHA’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19)
- Promote frequent and thorough hand washing, including by providing workers, customers, and worksite visitors with a place to wash their hands. If soap and running water are not immediately available, provide alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60% alcohol.
- Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick.
- Encourage respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes.
- Provide customers and the public with tissues and trash receptacles.
- Employers should explore whether they can establish policies and practices, such as flexible worksites (e.g., telecommuting) and flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts), to increase physical distance among and between employees
- Discourage workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment
- Maintain routine cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, equipment, and other elements of the work environment
The CDC provides a Risk Assessment Guide for People Exposed to COVID-19 that may be helpful to share with your employees in the event an individual is infected or exposed to COVID-19.